The End of 2017

At long last, on December 28, we signed the papers on the farm. We are now farm owners, renters no more.

COMING SOON: An exciting, new, amazing season!

The final CSA pickup was two weeks ago, and I have been remiss in getting a timely final blog post finished. I did take on a seasonal job with UPS, and that kept me pretty busy for about 10 hours a day… and it also got me back in physical shape. But here I am, on New Years’ Eve, getting it done!

The final CSA pickup of 2017! Savoy Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, Kale or Chard, Onions, Garlic, Delicata Squash, Two kinds of Potatoes, Candy Carrots, Sweet Beets, and Radicchio.

This has not been my favorite farming year. But once you start, you have to finish, and I believe we finished strong. I tend to remember the negatives: Replacing all the greenhouse plastic skins because we had to cut them after 6″ of heavy snowfall; The weeks of waiting to plant in the spring because it would not stop raining, then the missed weeks of harvest because we hadn’t been able to plant on time. And then the near-stroke injury I suffered in May that made it impossible and life-threatening for me to do any physical work…until October!

35 degrees and foggy, winter harvest day.

But it’s important to remember the good as well: How I successfully downsized the farm business, and ended up making nearly the same profit. How we had two truly amazing teenagers working for us all summer to help get my work done. How we ended up making it to the end of our 40 week season with plenty of food. And, with the help and support of our incredible community, we raised $80,000 and WE BOUGHT THE FARM!

White Christmas means work here! The forecast said rain was coming after the snow, so all the snow had to come off the greenhouses, lest they collapse under the weight.

Now we start making loan payments, and property tax payments, and doing many improvement projects that we haven’t wanted to invest in without a secure future. We’ll be building a barn, building a new farm stand, and burying our irrigation lines. Improving drainage around our structures, improving access to spaces we want you to be able to see, and encouraging you to explore our farm more. We feel that our farm belongs to all of you who ask us to feed you, and you should see it all. We’ll be announcing the date for our Farm Purchase Party sometime this spring, so keep your calendars handy!

Savoy Cabbages are wrinkly, and more cold-hardy than their smooth brethren.

NOTE: We still have 40 CSA spaces to fill, and it would be reassuring to know who is planning on joining us for a spectacular 2018. If you haven’t enrolled yet, please do so soon. Even a deposit will help with our winter and spring farm expenses, and there is no extra charge for making payments, as long as your CSA share is paid in full by March 1. Here’s the form link in case you need it. 2018 Farm Flyer. Let me know if you’d like an invoice to pay by credit card.

Thank you so much, and we wish you all the best in 2018.

Shelley, Mike, Della, and Cosmo

Advertisements

CSA Week 35

Thanksgiving treats, including sweet potatoes that we grew right here!

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:

• Spaghetti Squash
• German Butterball Potatoes
• Carrots
• Beets
• Sweet Potatoes
• Celery
• Sauté Greens
• Parsley or Arugula

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Escarole, Gold Nugget Squash, Brussels Sprouts, Savoy Cabbages

It’s taken a few weeks to get all the garlic and shallots planted for 2018, but at last that project is finished! The spring onions are growing roots and tops and coming along nicely. We have to cover up the planted garlic and shallots after planting because a gang of crows has come twice and pulled all of the bulbs out of the planting holes. So, really, I’ve planted twice. Our amazing soil is too sticky to plant when it’s raining, so it’s been a bit of a challenge to get the job finished.

Savoy Cabbage is a wrinkly, winter treat. The heads are lightweight but the leaves are thick and meaty. Not ideal for sauerkraut, but delicious in a soup or sliced into steaks and roasted, OR used for cabbage rolls.

We have a lot to be thankful for this year. It’s great to be alive, and two near-death scares is really enough for me now. I’m thankful to have my health back and begin a new farm year in tip top shape. We’re so incredibly grateful for the help of our community in raising the money for our down payment. In a matter of weeks we will be farm owners, and that is an incredible feeling after renting for almost two decades.

We are especially thankful for all of you. For supporting us for twenty years and allowing us the privilege of fulfilling our dreams while nourishing your families. We look forward to decades more to come. We will be planting more perennial crops, investing in infrastructure like a barn and permanent water lines, building a new farmstand, and two more greenhouses. Not all at once, of course, but in the near future.

The Spring Onions are coming along, and the garlic and shallots for 2018 are all planted and tucked in with covers to keep out the crows.

NOTE: We still have 40 CSA spaces to fill, and it would be reassuring to know who is planning on joining us for a spectacular 2018. If you haven’t enrolled yet, please do so soon. Even a deposit will help with our winter and spring farm expenses, and there is no extra charge for making payments, as long as your CSA share is paid in full by March 1. Here’s the form link in case you need it. 2018 Farm Flyer

Thank you so much, and have a lovely Thanksgiving with your families.

Shelley, Mike, Della, and Cosmo

CSA Week 31

Cauliflower or Cabbage, Delicata Squash, Carrots, German Butterball Potatoes, Beets or Bok Choy, Chard or Kale, and lots of Garlic.

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:

• Cauliflower or Cabbage (we were short of both)
• “German Butterball” Potatoes
• Carrots
• Swiss Chard or Kale
• Beets or Bok Choy
• Delicata Squash
• Lots of Garlic
Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Napa Cabbage, Turnips, Endive

After a year of Total Onion Failure, I’m setting up for a Season of Onion Abundance in 2018. I ordered about 6,000 onion transplants that we’ll (hopefully) be able to start harvesting in April, just as we’re getting ready to plant the main crop of onions for the rest of 2018. Torpedo and Walla Walla.

I think I’ve already explained the Great Onion Disaster of 2017. After many years of onion abundance, this year was the opposite. But I’ve taken measures to make sure that doesn’t happen again in 2018. We’ve made beds for next year’s onions next to the garlic that is going in the ground now, so that we’ll be ready to plant as soon as the transplants arrive in March. We won’t have to wait for the ground to dry out. AND, I’ve just planted about 6,000 sweet onions that will be ready to harvest starting in April. I’ve just finished planting them, and they’ll hang out and grow all winter. The Garlic for 2018 is half-planted and the Shallots will go in next week. My goal is to get them all settled before Thanksgiving.

Cauliflower is my favorite vegetable. And Fall Cauliflower is the queen of them all. Frost-sweetened, fewer bugs, and all deliciousness. Raw or roasted, in soup, stir-fry, even steamed.

The Onion Disaster is just one of the strange, climate-related changes that happened this year. Generally we plant all the fall and winter crops by August 1, so that they’ll have plenty of time to mature before the Great Darkness comes in November. We got everything planted by the middle of July and thought we were ahead of the game, but many things, like our beets, cabbages, and celery are still small. Another farmer who complained that his fruit wasn’t as sweet as it should be by now speculates that it was a result of the blocked sunlight by all the forest fire smoke. I’m taking that stance as well. We lost a few weeks of sun with the smoky haze. And as a result, we have small plants. Our winter brassicas are later than expected, and that would tie in to the same theory. But at least the cauliflowers are ready before the first hard freeze, and they’re delicious!

Glowing colors of Rainbow Swiss Chard stems. They are the best part of the chard.

A decade ago, we could grow Swiss Chard out in the field and we could harvest all winter, and then it would regrow in the spring. But the last four or five years it has been killed by winter freeze right around Thanksgiving, and then they don’t resprout in the spring. So when I was doing crop planning last winter, I planned to plant our big chard crop inside a greenhouse. The result is spectacular! (Of course, the chickens that we kept in there all winter didn’t hurt.) The leaves are dark, and huge, and beautiful and the stems are so vibrant!

AND HERE’S MY PLUG FOR CSA PAYMENTS!

I’m a bit more needy for everyone to pay for their CSA early this year because a number of our CSA Farmily have paid for theirs through our GoFundMe campaign. I am incredibly grateful for everyone’s help in reaching our downpayment goal, but that shorted us a bit in our farm expense fund. In just a few weeks it will be time to start buying supplies and seeds for 2018’s farm season, and we’ll also need to pay our family bills, PLUS a mortgage. So, please, if you are able, send in your CSA payments as soon as you can! There’s no extra charge for breaking it up into payments, either, if you can’t swing the whole thing at once. Here’s the link to the enrollment form.

And if you’d prefer to sign up for monthly Mystery Boxes, here’s the form for that! 2018 Mystery Boxes

Have an amazing fall week!

 

CSA Week 30

Fall Bounty. Potatoes, Butternut squash, Purple Carrots, Green Onions, the last of the Peppers, and lots of greens.

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:

• Purple Carrots or Beets
• “Irish Cobbler” Potatoes
• Quinces or Radicchio or Peppers
• Swiss Chard or Kale or Bok Choy
• Arugula or Salad Mustard or Sorrel
• Butternut Squash
• Green Onions
• Garlic

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Cauliflower, Napa Cabbage, Turnips

Well, it looks like we are going to be buying the farm! Thanks to contributions from so many of you, we raised enough for the payment that we needed to get our loan. Now, we’re waiting for all the legal portions of the transaction to carry-through. Hopefully, the rest of the process will be completed quickly.

We are so grateful to all of you for your incredible support, in the last few weeks and for the last 18 years. We wouldn’t be here without you!

When the kids were toddlers, I planted 8 Quince trees. They’ve produced some fruit the last few years, but this year it’s a bumper crop! There’s enough to make them a CSA choice, as well as selling at market. If you’re not sure what to do with them, read on…

Quinces are a relative of apples and pears, popular in medieval times, but not popular today because they  need to be cooked. The raw fruits are very sour, or astringent. Not pleasant. But once they’re cooked, they are delicious! I’ve made jam and jelly, but you can also transpose them for apples in applesauce, or roast chunks with vegetables, or poach them as a dessert.

10 years ago we could still overwinter Swiss Chard in the field. But something has changed, and the last several years it’s all frozen to death by Thanksgiving, and it doesn’t come back. So this year, I planted one of the greenhouses full of chard back in August. It’s huge and beautiful even though we’ve already had several frosty nights. The extra shelter should guarantee that it comes back in the spring for a repeat harvest as well!

We are entering what we used to call our Winter Season. Greens, squashes, and roots predominate. We’ll have another round of Cauliflower coming soon, and once we get serious freezing we’ll start harvesting the Brussels Sprouts. We have plenty of carrots and potatoes to come, but the beets are a bit small. We planted plenty early, in mid-July, but we suspect that the weeks of hazy skies from the forest fires blocked a significant amount of necessary daylight in high summer, and that slowed their growth. Regardless, we’ll have plenty of food to get through the end of the year.

That said, we’re already planning for 2018. We are planting the garlic that we’ll harvest next summer, and planting onions that we’ll harvest in the spring. In just a couple months we’ll be starting to plant in the greenhouses for April. So, if you haven’t yet signed up for our 2018 CSA season, now is the time!

Click here to get to the application form. And there’s no penalty for making monthly payments, but remember that it is hugely helpful to have everyone paid in full by February 1 when we start to get busy, and have the most expenses and no other income.

CSA Week 22, 23, & 24

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:

• Carrots
• “Sangre” Potatoes
• Arugula
• Eggplant or Melon
• Broccoli or Beets
• Cherry Tomatoes
• Big Tomatoes
• Sweet Peppers
• Choice of Herbs
• Garlic

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Hard Squashes, Kale, Swiss Chard

Time is flying by now that Fall is here. Days are shorter, and just all we have to do is harvest and clean up. The big slow-down. Since I’ve missed a few blog posts, I’m including photos of the last few weeks here.

In other news, we’ve had two new additions in the cow herd! First came Coral, Garnet’s first calf. She’s a cutie!

Then came Bob Dollar, Juniper’s ninth calf. He’s pretty darn handsome. (If you’re a fan of Annie Proulx, you’ll recognize Bob Dollar from her book, “That Old Ace in the Hole.” I’ve listened to it four times this summer.)

Both pairs are doing great, and the babies are frisky and play together when they’re not sleeping or eating. Check them out!

We’ve harvested the sweet potatoes and are sending them up the hill to Auburn Mountainview’s nice, hot greenhouse to cure. Then we can serve them up for Thanksgiving week!

The tomatoes keep giving, the beans are starting to stop, and soon it will be squash, greens, and potatoes season. Personally I can’t wait for some frosty-sweet kale.

CSA Week 19

So much summer!

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:

• Snap Beans (Green or Yellow)
• Big Lettuce
• Summer Squashes
• Lemon Cucumbers
• Tomatoes
• Lemon Basil
• Beets or Carrots
• Garlic

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Basil, Shelling Beans, Peppers, Broccoli, Cauliflower

SAVE THE DATE: Final Farm Potluck: October 21st

As the torrential rain falls in Texas, we are being forecast for a late fall. Another 3-4 weeks of hot, dry weather. As much as I’d like this summer to finish up, I am grateful for a few more weeks of growing time. We’ve planted a lot of extra crops (double the row feet) to provide bounty into the winter and make up for the ruinous spring start.

This round of broccoli and cauliflower are looking great. CSA will get nice crowns in two weeks or so!

We’re experimenting with some fall crops in the greenhouses. Since we downsized, we only need half as much space devoted to each crop as last year, so we can feasibly plant Swiss Chard, Green Beans, and Broccoli in the hoop houses for an extra late harvest. I’m hoping for plenty of variety in November, so we can delay the classic trio of Squash, Kale, Potatoes until December.

I planted two rows of melons in a greenhouse, just in case they worked. One row of cantaloupe-type melons, and one row of heirloom French melons. These are going to be my favorite, I know. Noir de Carmes and Prescott Fond Blanc. There will be plenty for everyone!

Everything will be planted this week. The work crew is going back to school, so they’ll just be weeding a couple days each week, and we’ll be able to start eating dinner before dark. Maybe.

Mostly we use the greenhouses to get an early jump on spring, and reliably grow peppers and tomatoes. But we can also use them to push a number of crops into the fall. Here we’ve got a final round of Swiss Chard, Basil, and Parsley started. Basil will make it into October, but the other two will hopefully last until Thanksgiving and then regrow in the spring for an early crop. (We’re also working on Green Beans and Broccoli! Fingers crossed!)

It’s already time to order seed garlic and onion starts. And because we had a 6-week delay in income, followed by my medical emergency—and resultant bills—we are short in funds for these purchases. So, I have a deal for anyone able to pay early for their 2018 CSA subscription: Prices are the same as last year, and we are keeping to our single, 40-week season (April through December) but if you pay before October 1, you’ll save 10%. That’s $70 off of a $700 Mini Share, $100 off of a $1,000 Small Share, or $180 off of a $1,800 Large Share. Your early payment will mean a successful start to 2018!

Have a great week!

CSA Week 16

We may not have onions this year, but our garlic is abundant, and so are the beets! And we’re rolling in green beans.

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:

• Carrots
• Snap Beans (Green or Yellow)
• Baby Lettuces
• Summer Squashes
• Lemon Cucumbers or various Greens
• Basil
• Beets
• Garlic

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON: Tomatoes, Shelling Beans, Peppers

SAVE THE DATE: Farm Potluck and Garlic Cleaning Work Party: August 27th

The final fall crops are going in the ground this week, and we are hustling! These last plantings will get us through the end of the year, plus a bit beyond. We’re also planning some surprise crops in the greenhouses. Fingers crossed!

Spinach is fickle in the summer. It refuses to germinate if the soil is over 70 degrees, and it will bolt (go to flower) if the temperature stays too hot for too long. But we just keep on trying…

We are moving next Tuesday’s deliveries and farm pickup to Wednesday, so that we can go south a bit and experience the eclipse. We’ll be back Monday night, but we’ll still need a day to harvest. Please mark your calendars! Weekend pickups will remain the same.

The first day of sky after the wildfire smoke cleared. What a relief!

We have several plantings of green beans coming on strong, with the final planting today. This last planting will (hopefully) mature in early October, and it IS a gamble crop. But sometimes we have beautiful weather in October, and if that happens, we’ll have lots of beans!

Beautiful green beans. I just sauté them in a little butter until they turn bright green. So delicious!

With all the challenges this season, the late rains, my injury, and then a hot, dry spell, our u-pick garden has suffered. There are some zinnias, cherry tomatoes, and there will be pumpkins. The gladiolas and dahlias are up, but it’s highly unlikely that they’ll grow enough to bloom, but you never know. We’re really glad the wildfire smoke has cleared and we have fresh air, plus a bit of drizzle. Bring on the fall!